Why Nikon and Canon should build mirrorless as a second system – but probably won't
All rumors suggest that Canon and/or Nikon is going to get into the high-end mirrorless interchangeable lens camera market, in some way.
I don't have any insider knowledge of this, or I wouldn't be able to write this, but it looks pretty likely at this point. It also seems pretty likely to me that both brands will do everything to maintain compatibility with their existing lens mounts. Avoiding the need to design a whole new lens range, maximizing the value of the investment in the existing lineup and side-stepping the kind of anger that Canon generated when it abandoned its previous 'FD' mount (all the way back in 1987) are all major motivators.
Let's imagine what would happen if they decided to make a system that sat alongside their existing DSLRs, rather than heralding their obsolescence
Planning for a future, F-mount compatible mirrorless camera might explain why all of Nikon's recent lenses have finally abandoned mechanical aperture control from the lens mount, since it means they could be fully controlled by an adapter with electronic mounts.
So what's the alternative? Let's imagine they didn't tie themselves to their existing lens mounts. In fact, let's imagine what would happen if they decided to make a system that sat alongside their existing DSLRs, rather than heralding their eventual obsolescence.
What if they decided to make a system designed to be companion camera? A system that offers something your DSLR doesn't do, rather than trying to mimic what it already does?
A small camera, designed for enthusiasts and pros to be used alongside a DSLR or in circumstances where you don't want to lug a DSLR around. A street shooter's camera, a carry-everywhere photographer's camera. Let's think about the potential benefits.
|Canon's EOS M range has drifted towards the kind of camera I'm talking about, but doesn't have the lens range to match.|
It's not necessarily true that mirrorless promised to be smaller but, not least because it started with Four Thirds and APS-C sensors, that was one of the differentiators when MILCs first appeared. Yet the expectation that a mirrorless camera must replace a DSLR has resulted in an unfortunate convergence.
Demands (including from us) for more battery life, along with the need to handle and act as a like-for-like DSLR replacement has led to mirrorless cameras getting progressively larger. This has helped create a generation of cameras that are nearly as big as their DSLR rivals. And, with the exception of better video implementation and the mixed blessings of electronic viewfinders, little else to set them apart.
So what do you propose?
Essentially, I'm asking for a full frame, interchangeable lens Fujifilm X100. Ok, that might not sound much like an X100, but the common thread is of something relatively small, that by design, doesn't try to do everything. A camera that will sit happily alongside your existing camera (mirrored or not).
You can cover a lot of styles of photography with a couple of short-ish prime lenses. After all, it works for Leica
As with everything photographic, it quickly comes down to a question of lenses. This is the key element to it not being a DSLR rival: don't try to build a full lineup of lenses. I'd propose a camera with a limited number of lenses, starting with a 24mm, a 35mm a 50mm and a 90. And nothing longer than that.
This is because the size benefits that come from removing the mirror from between the sensor and the mount can only be realized with short focal lengths. Stick mainly to the shorter focal lengths and you can keep the camera and lenses smaller.
The lineup should be designed with the expectation that most people will only buy the one or two lenses that suit them. You can cover a lot of styles of photography with a couple of short-ish prime lenses. After all, it works for Leica.
Taking the long view
For me, telephoto lenses ruin mirrorless cameras. There, I've said it.
Telephoto lenses for mirrorless are just as long as their DSLR counterparts, so there's no size benefit to throwing away your mirror. Worse still, these long, heavy lenses demand that mirrorless cameras develop the bulky, bulbous grips that SLRs have evolved since the 1990s.
Creating a limited, dedicated set of lenses relieves a lot of pressure. It means you don't need to build an extensive, open-ended lens range from scratch. No tele zooms, no mid-price 24-70s. Hell, no zooms at all if you don't want to. This is something every mirrorless maker has struggled to do, both in terms of the time it takes to flesh-out a new lineup but also because mistakes get made in any learning process. Every mirrorless system has at least one lens that either isn't as optically good as you'd expect or that focuses much more slowly than you'd want.
For me, telephoto lenses ruin mirrorless cameras. There, I've said it
However, building a lineup of any size is better than building a camera with a full-depth DSLR lens mount in the name of backwards compatibility, since this condemns its users to carrying an empty mirror box around with them for eternity. And that's a punishment with a level of pointlessness right out of Greek mythology.
|Nikon's 300mm F4 'Phase Fresnel' or Canon's 'Diffractive Optics' designs provide a route to providing compact telephotos.|
Just produce a handful of great, dedicated primes that take full advantage of the new system without any compromises that come from maintaining compatibility with DSLRs. That way you don't have to split your R&D resources trying to keep two full lineups up-to-date.
This also has the advantage that you can sell your camera to photographers with commitments to other systems, because you're not forcing them to choose. But it still gives your existing, faithful users the benefits of full compatibility with your flash systems and other accessories, along with familiarity with your menus.
A small, self-contained system solely aimed at a subset of photographers, rather than trying to be all things to all people. A camera that complements, rather than competing with the existing lineup.
As I say, it'll never happen. But it'd be nice, wouldn't it?
|As well as the desire to mesh with the existing lens lineups, the other reason we won't see the camera I describe is because Fujifilm has already effectively invented it|
Can AI overcome the physical limitations of smartphone sensors and lenses? A Qualcomm executive thinks so, thanks in large part to improvements in processing power, hardware and artificial intelligence.
We're starting to see cameras offering 'open gate' video recording, so what is this tool and when is it useful?
The Sony FX30 is a 4K/120p-capable Super35 / APS-C cinema camera that wants to take the battle to the likes of Panasonic's GH series.
Sony's new FX30 Super35/APS-C Cinema Line camera is effectively a crop-sensor version of the company's full-frame FX3 camera with sensor-based image stabilization, oversampled 4K/60p capture and '16-bit' Raw output and more.
If you've ever wanted to become an action figure, Hasbro is providing you the opportunity with its new 3D-printed Selfie Series action figures.
When you store photos on the cloud, you expect them to remain safe for a long time. However, some Google Photos users were scared over the weekend when they realized that their photo libraries had become corrupted.
DALL-E's Outpainting feature uses AI to expand existing images and artwork. Ad agency Ogilvy Paris has used Outpainting to expand Johannes Vermeer's famous painting, 'The Milkmaid.'
iOS 16.0.2 addresses, amongst other bug fixes, a problem wherein the second-generation sensor-shift image stabilization tech was causing camera shake issues in some third-party apps.
For the past eight years, the Library of Congress has been working on figuring out the subjects in a large collection of film, TV and music photos. Many of the mysteries have been solved. However, 17 photos have eluded the LC's best efforts, and the public's help is needed to help put names to the final unknown faces.
After having to pull the initial firmware update last month due to an issue that caused some units to stop working, Sony has re-released firmware version 1.1 for its a7 IV full-frame mirrorless camera.
Sigma's latest wide Art-badged prime for full frame is capable of some stunning landscapes. Check out a new batch of sample photos in the gallery.
Winners for this year's annual Comedy Pet Photo Awards have been announced.
While visiting the team in Seattle, Chris and Jordan attempt to eat some chowder. It's difficult. Also, this week they are puppets.
Meike has released its first adapter for Nikon Z cameras. The new MK-EFTZ-B adapter allows Nikon Z users to attach Canon EF and EF-S lenses to their cameras, complete with autofocus and automatic exposure functionality.
The Canon 5D Mark II was released in November 2008. Since then, a photographer used theirs to capture nearly 2.3 million images, which is an average of about 450 photos per day if they shot every single day. The camera is still going strong for its new owner.
Capture One for iPad users cvan now connect their camera, wired or wirelessly, to their iPad for quick image transfers without the need for memory cards and readers.
Digital film scanners can be pricey, so Lomo's latest scanners let shooters do it themselves. Whether you have a digital camera, or simply a smartphone, there's a DigitaLIZA that'll work with your kit. But are the results any good? Let's find out.
The Leica Q2 'Dawn' is the same camera on the inside, but features an all-black paint job and a special Japanese-woven fabric wrap produced by Japanese brand, Hosoo.
It's been a while since we've a lens with a normal to super-telephoto range, how do the photos from the Tamron 50-400mm F4.5-6.3 look? Take a gander.
Also new is a built-in screen for checking the battery and shooting mode, as well as a Quick Launch feature for iPhone devices.
Venus Optics' Laowa 58mm F2.8 2x Ultra-Macro APO is available for Canon R, Leica L, Nikon Z and Sony E mount camera systems.
Kubrick had three of the ten Zeiss Planar 50mm F0.7 lenses Zeiss produced re-engineered to work as cinema lenses. Kubrick is most known for using these lenses in a candlelit scene in his Oscar-winning film, Barry Lyndon.
As part of our review of the Canon EOS R10, we've shot our standard studio scene to let you see how the new camera compares to its peers and predecessors.
The ultra-telephoto zoom offers a 225-750mm full-frame equivalent focal length.
In addition to a forthcoming 70-180mm F2.8 lens (which looks like it could be another reworked Tamron lens), Nikon revealed it's working on a 12-28mm PZ lens for APS-C Z-mount cameras as well as a pair of fast primes: a 35mm and a 135mm.
Panasonic has announced firmware v2.2 for the Lumix DC-GH6. Available from September 27th, the firmware adds direct SSD recording.
We were able to get our hands on Nikon's new Nikkor Z 17-28mm F2.8 just before its launch, so here's a little insight into what it is, how it handles and what its sample images can look like.
This Nikkor Z lens shares the bulk of its specs with Tamron’s 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD lens, but gains Nikon-specific features, such as a customizable control ring.
A pilot known as Blastr has created a first-of-its-kind video with a rig he built himself. Watch as an FPV drone flies into the water and reemerge.